We had the good fortune of connecting with Virginia Ivañez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Virginia, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
When I was a teenager, my family started facing a difficult financial situation. At this time, I was undocumented and while most of my friends could work at the local grocery store or the mall, I could not apply for work anywhere. I started thinking of how I could make money to help the family out and one day we saw a clown at a children’s event and the light bulb went off immediately! I knew that was something I could do to help out my family! It was a weekend job where I could use my bilingual skills and creativity to earn money for my family. It wasn’t long before my mom and I put together outfits, purchased a sound system, props, and started creating a dynamic bilingual show to entertain birthday parties. Our first ad was in a Spanish-speaking newspaper and the initial plan was for my mom and I to do the show together…(I was a very shy person); however, next thing I know, ten little kids run to our car with the happiest faces and excitement, “the clowns are here!!”. The kids run to hug us and help us carry our props inside the party and to my surprise, I grabbed the microphone to start the show and every inch of shyness dissipated. My first clown show ever was a hit! I got my first payment and also a tip! This motivated me to go further! My show became a hit in the Hispanic community throughout Houston! I loved doing the shows because I could keep going to school and also help support my family. During my years of clowning (no pun intended); I helped celebrate hundreds of birthdays. It was a beautiful time. I loved uniting families to celebrate life and bring smiles to everyone’s faces. At the same time, I saw a lot of poverty, inequality, and injustice. For example, I did shows throughout many areas of town including the most poverty stricken areas of Houston, where we would reduce the price of the show for those families. It wasn’t rare to see undocumented families doing birthday parties inside because they were scared that if they were outside, the police would find them and separate their families. It also wasn’t rare to see families celebrate with what little they had. Often, a small plastic dollar store toy was the joy and excitement of many of these children. Often, the parents only had money for a cake but no presents. These were the stories that motivated me to pursue a Juris Doctorate degree and become an attorney.
What should our readers know about your business?
I love helping people! In my last year of law school, I was the sole state-wide recipient of the Pro Bono Award granted by the State Bar of Texas. This was a recognition of my countless hours committed to doing pro bono legal work throughout law school. That same year, I was recognized by the National Jurist as a top 5 law student. It was a wonderful time! After gaining valuable experience at top law firms during my first years as an attorney, I decided it was time to start my own practice; and thus, Law Offices of Virginia Ivanez (LOVI LAW) is born! A boutique law firm dedicated to business immigration that handles employment immigration, investment immigration, and also family-based immigration. This is an important time for me. It is the culmination of years of hard work. I’m most proud of staying true to professionalism and ethics. I love finding alternate solutions for clients and have often been called ‘Abogada Intensa’ (intense attorney). I get this a lot because if a clients case is in my hands, I will be intense with it until I find a solution. I like being direct and genuine with my clients. This is a rare trait to find in the professional world because often professionals want to please the ears of their clients but don’t want to tell them the truth about their cases. I will lay out the realities of a case and then work to find the best solution. I want my clients to know that I understand their struggles. That I too am an immigrant whose family came here to do the best in this wonderful country. I want to motivate my clients to succeed in their businesses and education. My journey has been difficult, I never stopped working since I was a teenager and didn’t get to live out many phases of my youth because of the immigrant struggle. And yet today, I stand thankful for every inch of struggle because it made me stronger. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The pathway of clown to attorney is humorous and yet so real to my story. I deeply enjoy every challenge I’ve faced.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love Bayou Bend gardens. I love crossing that hanging bridge and being transported to another world while smack in the middle of Houston. However, the craziest thing is that sometimes I like to re-explore all the areas I got to explore while I was a clown. In my fourteen years of clowning, I must’ve done shows all over Houston. So I like to drive to different areas and acknowledge the versatility of Houston. If I had to show someone the reality of this city, I would show them all the way from the suburbs of Katy and the picturesque scenery of old Katy, all the way through EaDo, Heights, Rice, but then never forget the areas of struggle. Where our city’s muscle sleeps. Areas where minorities live and work and often live in the shadows. This, I find is always important to acknowledge. These areas such as Airline Road area, have the coolest tiny spots for food that no one knows exist. On a lighter note, I’ve been obsessed with Poke lately and probably order from SeaSide Poke in EaDo all too often. I currently live in the Heights and cannot get enough of all the awesome bars and restaurants. I enjoy sitting on the rooftop terrace of Sonoma in the Heights and eat some empanadas while drinking a glass of wine!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my mother, Maria Victoria Veloso, and to Senator John Whitmire. My mother has been my greatest example in life. She taught me to be genuine, loving, and to work hard. Senator John Whitmire has been my mentor for years, he’s an exemplary person and professional who pushed me to succeed as a professional. Senator Whitmire made sure that on the day I became a U.S. Citizen, that I was recognized for it on the floor of the Texas Senate and it was a beautiful moment. He also swore me in when I became a licensed attorney in the state of Texas. I’m lucky to have his mentorship!
Egidio Narvaez (for professional attorney pictures)
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